On 6 May, at 4.30 p.m., a group of Italian passengers returning from Madrid to Milan were denied boarding by Iberia staff for no reason.
We are in the middle of the Covid pandemic, the flight is not very full, almost nobody is travelling on holiday, many are in Spain for work.
For some, Madrid was the destination, for others just a stopover.
Someone came from La Coruña where he had gone to sell fabrics to the Spanish giant Inditex (Zara, Bershka, Pull and Bear), another came from Palma de Mallorca where he has a restaurant and had gone to fix the last things before a desirable reopening for the summer.
There was also a university professor from Venice who once a week has to teach in Madrid and, fortunately for everyone (first and foremost for Iberia which will learn to manage customers better and above all to train its staff in education), there was a journalist among those rejected.
Let’s look at the facts. By law from May 2021 everyone entering Italy must have a negative PCR done in the previous 48 hours, this rule is accompanied by another one that says that if there is a short round trip with proven commercial needs not exceeding one hundred and twenty hours, the test is not necessary.
I know, it’s confusing, but in the Covid period we have been suffering from confusing laws since the early 2020s. In boarding H37 at Terminal 4 of Madrid’s Barajas airport, at 16:30 on 6 May, what should never happen between a company, any company, and its customers, took place. I am precise with the data so that Iberia can make its assessments.
Do you know why Amazon has become the number one company in the world? Because of its customer orientation.
If a product doesn’t work, no questions asked, you get your money back, we all know that. We all know that. Have you ever tried to talk to Amazon’s call centre? They pamper you from the first minute to the last.
Well, if the example of Amazon is considered by many to be the best in customer service, on the opposite side you can put the Iberia staff who welcomed the passengers of flight IB3254. Perhaps this is also the reason why more and more passengers choose more modern and intelligent airlines. It is worth noting that in this period Easyjet does not fly, Ryanair, Vueling and Alitalia have reduced their flights, so Iberia has a kind of monopoly on Spain/Italy travel.
Back at 16.30, the team had a note, with the writing: “48 hours before returning to Italy“.
That is, they had no brains to think, no mobile phone connected to the internet to consult and above all no education and respect for their customers who pay money to fly. A small group of about 20 passengers (I may be wrong about the exact number) who were travelling for work without PCR, precisely because the law provided for it, one after the other pointed out to this not so young lady (or perhaps wrongly taken) to H47 that they should return home and that they were perfectly within the rules. She, with this little sheet printed on a printer, responds in machine-gun fashion: “No test covid, no flight, gentlemen, step away from the counter“.
The passengers, polite because with authority it is always better to be polite, start to take out some mobile phones, some even more diligent to print the rule, but the obtuse Iberia staff (in the meantime they have become 4 people) is only able to repeat on a machine: “No test, no flight, gentlemen, step away from the counter“.
The situation becomes ridiculous, Iberia – the team, of course – has no authority to keep the passengers on the ground, but also starts to be rude by offending the passengers, calling first security and then the Guardia Civil. But the 20 rioters (on the right) don’t want to give up, they have to go home.
There are those who have meetings the next day, those who have children waiting for them and those who are simply tired and just want to go home. Nothing, the obtuseness of ill-trained, ill-educated and ignorant staff means they can’t leave. But you know, power handed into the hands of the wrong people is a big problem. And the Iberia staff at 4.45pm at gate H47 on 6 May 2021 at Madrid T4 were definitely unprepared, uneducated and unmannered.
One could also talk about the poor level of English of this team, who shouted in Spanish as if everyone should know Spanish, but that’s another story. Once the flight left, missed for 20 people, Iberia at the main airport ticket office through another much more trained and polite staff acknowledged the mistake and exchanged the ticket for a new one for the next day to the unfortunate ones.
Return of the hotel? No, not at all. Excuses? No, not at all. Will the 20 still fly with Iberia? If they have a choice, definitely not.